Tag: Michigan

Higher Grounds Trading Company // Peru Pangoa Julia Sulca Pillaca Microlot

Higher Grounds Trading Company // Peru Pangoa Julia Sulca Pillaca Microlot

Tucked away in the central Amazon region of Peru, just east of the Andean mountain range that runs through the center of the country, CAC Peru Pangoa (Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera Pangoa) has been serving its members since 1977. The coop has experienced a colorful history […]

Higher Grounds Trading Company // APECAP Ecuador, Gonzalo Castillo Microlot

Higher Grounds Trading Company // APECAP Ecuador, Gonzalo Castillo Microlot

Gonzalo Castillo conducts a meticulous selection of cherries of his coffee, selecting only the reddest, ripest cherries for depulping. Coffee is picked most mornings and depulped by 5 PM. The coffee undergoes dry fermentation for 14 hours and is washed the following morning. After washing, the […]

Higher Grounds Trading Company // Peru Norandino Natural

Higher Grounds Trading Company // Peru Norandino Natural

Peru Norandino Cooperative is an association of small-scale coffee producers in northern Peru. The 90 grassroots organizations with more than 6,600 producers, located on the western slopes of the Andes Mountains in Piura.

Cooperativa Norandino brings together three important coffee farmer groups with a long history in Peru.  One such organization is the Central Piurana de Cafetaleros (CEPICAFE), which was was founded on March 26, 1995, with 18 primary-level co-op organizations and 200 members.  CEPICAFE was founded after years of grassroots work by Arnaldo Neira, Segundo Guerrero and many others.  After seeing the success achieved by implementing ecological technical farming systems and marketing quality coffee, more and more producers began to organize. “Together with our grassroots organizations we work permanently to promote sustainable and fair human development by broadening the capacities and ensuring respect for the rights of small-scale farmers and producers in the highlands of Piura,” said Arnaldo Neira Camizán.

The second major group of growers who cooperated to create Cooperativa Norandino are from the area of Jaén and San Ignacio in the province of Cajamarca.   A generation ago, these growers benefited from the services of the secondary cooperative CECOOAC-NOR, but that group collapsed during the economic chaos that engulfed Peru in the 1980s and 1990s.  Small-scale farmers were subjected to the unfair buying practices of private corporations, but were able to organize themselves into new democratic organizations to build their own history. The third group of farmers are located around the San Martín area of northern Peru.

The region where Cooperativa Norandino members grow coffee is in the highlands of northwest Peru. All of Cooperativa Norandino’s coffee is grown by family units. The average area farmed by members is 1.8 hectares (about four acres). The structure of small property allows them to dedicate all their efforts on the cultivation of coffee without damaging the aside forest and fruit species which serve as shade trees to the coffee and supply an important part of the families’ diets.  Geographically, the area is located on the western flanks of the Andes Mountains, at altitudes ranging from 900 to 1,400 meters above sea level, and lying very close to Ecuadorian border.

Equal Exchange and Cooperativa Norandino share a very close relationship. Equal Exchange was CEPICAFE’s second international customer and the the first to offer pre-shipment credit. In 2001, Cooperativa Norandino’s general manager, Santiago Paz, spent three months working from Equal Exchange’s main office, studying English and marketing CEPICAFE’s coffee to other importers. In 2003, five key Equal Exchange customers lived and worked with the Cooperativa Norandino farmers in Coyona.  In November 2006, Beth Ann Caspersen conducted a quality control training for Cooperativa Norandino managers to prepare them for the opening of Cooperativa Norandino’s own beneficio in 2007. In 2013, the same Equal Exchange customers will traveled to Coyona in 2003 will return for a 10th Anniversary visit.

Cooperativa Norandino farmers have garnered scores of awards for quality coffee and cacao.   At the most recent national competition, Cooperativa Norandino farmers took home 4 of the 10 Gold Medals for cocoa quality.

For more information regarding the Peru Norandino Cooperative, check out the their brochure: Fair Adventurers: Meet the Makers – A Different Form of Tourism: Alternative and Responsible.*

Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Peru Norandino Natural, from Higher Grounds Trading Company in Traverse City, Michigan. Feel free to pull up a chair.


origin: Piura, Peru
farm: N/A
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Peru Norandino Cooperative
elevation: 900 – 1700 meters above sea level
cultivars: Bourbon, Typica
process: natural


The aroma of the Peru Norandino is unreal. Wow! Immediately upon opening the bag, an explosion of sweet, bright melange of fruits, florals, and sugars bursts into the air and fills my nostrils with scents of Froot Loops, watermelon, blueberry, hibiscus, vanilla, and honey.

As I take my first few sips, the coffee’s flavor profile follows its nose. This is a light-bodied coffee with a creamy mouthfeel and is defined by its fun, bright, lively flavor profile. Every sip features a mix of vanilla cream and honey, which slowly rolls over and envelops the palate, while a surge of tropical fruits gushes over the taste buds. Mixed berries (particularly strawberry and blueberry), guava, watermelon Jolly Rancher, cantaloupe, and green apple coalesce and flood my mouth. Additional flavors include confectioner’s sugar, angel food cake, honeysuckle, hibiscus, and rose petal. And unlike many other natural coffees, this one doesn’t collapse as it cools; its intensity diminishes, certainly, but it maintains its flavor profile throughout.


If I were cupping this coffee blind, it would have totally fooled me. There’s no way I would have guessed it was a Peruvian offering. Would I have guessed that it was an unprocessed natural? Undoubtedly. But a natural Peru?? No way. I would have been much more apt to think it was a Colombian Gesha, to be honest.

The Peru Norandino, from Higher Grounds Trading Company, is one hell of a coffee. It absolutely dazzles the taste buds with a melange of bright, vibrant tropical fruits, sweet sugars, and fragrant florals and its light, creamy body makes it a supremely drinkable cup.

*content courtesy of Equal Exchange

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ROWSTER Coffee // Brazil Carmo de Minas

ROWSTER Coffee // Brazil Carmo de Minas

The 100 years of tradition in coffee-growing in Carmo de Minas, in southern Minas Gerais, are interlaced with the history of the Sertão Group / Carmo de Minas. The first cultivation of coffee in the region occurred at the Sertão Estate, which gives its name […]

Atwater Brewery // Vanilla Java Porter

Atwater Brewery // Vanilla Java Porter

EDITOR’S NOTE: I just want to start this article off by saying that I don’t know much of anything about this product other than what it tastes like. I reached out to Atwater Brewery several times via social media and email and never got answers to […]